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Best My Chemical Romance Songs: 20 Essential Goth-Punk Tracks
List & Guides

Best My Chemical Romance Songs: 20 Essential Goth-Punk Tracks

As a goth-punk rock opera soundclash, the best My Chemical Romance songs provide a bombastic emo soundtrack for disaffected millennials.

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When frontman Gerard Way’s vision for My Chemical Romance was born from the tragedy of 9/11, his quest was to “make a difference” in the world. For the next 12 years, the New Jersey natives would spearhead an entire musical movement and leave a legacy built on goth-punk rock operas supported by equally epic music videos. Yet the juxtapositions that existed in their music – morbidly dark lyrics married to life-affirming melodies; the gnarliest punk riffs leading into the most stunningly haunting ballads – manifested among music fans: detractors hated them as much as their devoted fans worshipped them. There’s even division among die-hards on the essential MCR tracks. In this countdown of the best My Chemical Romance songs, we reveal why the band remain so revered.

Listen to the best of My Chemical Romance here, and check out our best My Chemical Romance songs, below.

20: Headfirst For Halos (from ‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’, 2002)

If the emo tag never sat comfortably with My Chemical Romance – it didn’t – they did themselves no favours by writing about suicide. But that’s the central theme to this jagged and disjointed number, as its central character struggles with depression and contemplates taking his own life. But Gerard Way’s conclusion is a simple one: don’t do it.

19: Bulletproof Heart (from ‘Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys’, 2010)

By 2010, MCR had matured greatly, and darkness was largely traded for more synthesised elements to their music. The band’s image, too, was given a dramatic and – whisper it – colourful overhaul in line with brothers Mikey and Gerard Way’s love of comics and super heroes. This is reflected in the group’s fourth and final album, Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys, and the pop-punktastic standout track Bulletproof Heart.

18: This Is How I Disappear (from ‘The Black Parade’, 2006)

MCR’s influences always extended beyond punk, rock, goth and post-hardcore, and there is a distinct Iron Maiden flourish in the hard-hitting riffage of This Is How I Disappear. In fact, the whole The Black Parade album is a melting pot of influences distilled into a rock opera based around the marching-band vision from a fond childhood memory that greets central character “The Patient” when he dies

17: Kill All Your Friends (from ‘Famous Last Words’, 2007)

There’s no denying the way the best My Chemical Romance songs married the darkest lyrical matter to the most celebratory of melodies. In Kill All Your Friends, Gerard Way makes the observation that the older you get, the more likely you are to only see your friends at funerals. And so comes the suggestion that there’s nothing that will get the party started quite like a murder spree among your pals.

16: Teenagers (from ‘The Black Parade’, 2006)

There’s often an element of theatricality to MCR’s repertoire, and nowhere is that more apparent than on Teenagers – the song could almost have been performed by the child cast of spoof gangster musical Bugsy Malone. Yet despite its uplifting refrain, in typical My Chemical Romance fashion the song’s lyrical themes run much deeper. This one tackles the subject of high-school shootings

15: Vampire Money (from ‘Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys’, 2010)

While retaining the pop sensibilities of many of the best My Chemical Romance songs, Vampire Money is a frenetic punk number. After all, it’s in the dingy dive bars where the group’s roots lay; they just happened to be the first band in the scene to don eyeliner and ghostly foundation. This track is a kickback at those cashing in on the Twilight phenomenon whom the band felt watered down what it meant to be “goth”.

14: Mama (from ‘The Black Parade’, 2006)

You’d be forgiven for thinking MCR have a morbid fascination with death, but this theatrical punk-rock number approaches the subject from the perspective of a soldier on a mission to heal a broken relationship with his mother before he becomes a casualty of war. Mama brings some heavy Cabaret vibes and even features a cameo from legendary actress Liza Minnelli as the mother character.

13: The Kids From Yesterday (from ‘Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys’, 2010)

The Danger Days… album introduced an apparently drastic change of sound that split some critics, but MCR had grown up and were exploring a more mature style of songwriting. While the synth-pop ante had been ratcheted up – quite prominently on The Kids From Yesterday – the heartfelt theme was of a matured band looking back on a life lived their own way.

12: It’s Not A Fashion Statement, It’s A Deathwish (from ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’, 2004)

Further strengthening the emo rod MCR made for their own backs, a common theme across their first two albums was love – or, rather, the betrayal of it. It’s prevalent through this slicing punk-rock track, which, though somewhat embryonic for the group, showed all the promise of a band headed for greatness, becoming an early shoo-in among the best My Chemical Romance songs.

11: Vampires Will Never Hurt You (from ‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’, 2002)

Vampires are cool and that, but for MCR they are a metaphor used to reference much deeper subject matter. Vampires Will Never Hurt You’s muted post-hardcore verse builds into a punchy crescendo, all supporting a demonic narrative. For the band, those demons represent greed in society, but for Gerard Way it was an early warning sign of the alcoholism he would soon be fighting his own battle against.

10: Disenchanted (from ‘The Black Parade’, 2006)

My Chemical Romance stray into power-ballad territory on the lamenting Disenchanted. Gerard Way lays his soul as bare as the music that supports him, slowly building its intensity into a string-backed climax. There are trademark MCR references to death and dying, but here the singer’s disenchantment comes from success: fame’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

9: You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison (from ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’, 2004)

Many of the best My Chemical Romance songs rely on imagery as much as sonics – a notion that extends to the band’s lyrics as much as their promo videos and stage shows. The narrative to this spiky punk-rocker involves a gun-toting criminal sure he will evade police capture. When the law catches up to him, the protagonist is forced to contemplate his own death sentence. The marriage between audio and visual components helped propel MCR to the top of their game. This was an early marker of their potential.

8: Helena (from ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’, 2004)

The drawback of being in a successful rock band is the endless touring and the sacrifices in physical and mental health, as well as time spent away from loved ones. It was the anger and grief at the death of Gerard and Mikey Way’s grandmother Elena Lee Rush that fed the dichotomy of MCR’s most savage yet heartfelt offering, Helena.

7: Dead! (from ‘The Black Parade’, 2006)

Musically, the jaunty Dead! stands in stark contrast to both its dark title and the concept that weaves through The Black Parade – the dying days of “The Patient” as he succumbs to cancer. Its musical-theatre-style drama is where the band’s spectrum of influences collide, as this example of the best My Chemical Romance songs draws upon everything from the blistering punk of Misfits to the pomp-rock excess of Queen.

6: Thank You For The Venom (from ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’, 2004)

“I wouldn’t front the scene if you paid me,” Gerard Way sang on the second single from Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. Ironic, then, that by 2004 he was well on his way to spearheading the whole emo movement. With it came the weight of responsibility towards fans when critics started accusing My Chemical Romance of glorifying suicide. Thank You For The Venom was an anthemic punk-rock pushback.

5: I Don’t Love You (from ‘The Black Parade’, 2006)

Despite their popularity, My Chemical Romance divided fans of rock music. Gerard Way wrote I Don’t Love You’s lyrics in response to the haters, effectively saying, “Too bad, we’re not going away.” Musically, this epic yet simplistic ballad takes its cues from vintage pop-rock legends ELO and Cheap Trick, and is testament to how MCR would do things their way, regardless of what people thought of them.

4: The Ghost Of You (from ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’, 2004)

A power ballad in goth clothing, The Ghost Of You stood as an early indicator of the highly accomplished songwriters MCR would become. In a video that cost a cool $1 million to make, Gerard Way’s affecting vocals provide a fear-of-loss narration to a D-Day scene from World War Two. A standout track on their second album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, The Ghost Of You stalks the upper echelons of the best My Chemical Romance songs.

3: Famous Last Words (from ‘The Black Parade’, 2006)

As the Black Parade cycle drew to a close, MCR were kings of the epic music video. Famous Last Words proved so arduous to film that two band members required medical assistance by the end of the shoot. Nevertheless, its infectious “I am not afraid to keep on living” refrain stands as a glowing beacon of hope at the end of The Black Parade’s ingrained darkness.

2: I’m Not Okay (I Promise) (from ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’, 2004)

The MCR song that speaks most directly to their fanbase, I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’s chaos of scything riffs may be set to a narration of Gerard Way’s own doomed high-school romance, but the pointed chorus belongs to anyone going through their own personal hell. An anthem for a disaffected youth, and pop-punk in its darkest form.

1: Welcome To The Black Parade (from ‘The Black Parade’, 2006)

This track stands front and centre of the whole The Black Parade concept. Gerard Way strongly believes that when death comes calling, you’re greeted with a vision of your clearest memory. With its cinematic scope and punk-made-for-stadiums hooks, Welcome To The Black Parade is the spectacle that tops our list of the best My Chemical Romance songs.

Looking for more? Find out the best rock bands of all time.

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